What is Alchemy?

The Introductory Notes are taken from "Hermetic Papers of A.E. Waite", edited by R.A Gilbert (Aquarian Press,1987). The text of "What is Alchemy?" reproduced here is scanned from the periodical "The Unknown World", and formatted and corrected by hand. [Adepti.com] Introductory Notes: [First printed in the monthly journal The Unknown World from August to December 1894 and in April, 1895. It was reprinted in The Alchemical Papers of Arthur Edward Waite, ed. J. Ray Shute, Monroe, N.C., 1939, a privately printed collection limited to seventy copies.] In his earlier writings on alchemy Waite maintained that the spiritual interpretation of alchemy was first systematically presented by Mrs. Atwood in her Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery -a point of view that he was later to reject completely, to the extent of saying that the book 'is not, however, final or satisfactory as a critical study, indeed, in some respects it is a morass rather than a pathway' (The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, 1911, Vol.2, p. 414). For this he was taken to task, in the pages of the Occult Review, by Isabelle de Steiger; but he justified himself by stating that 'What I said of the Suggestive Enquiry in 1888 and 1893 was in the light of my knowledge at those dates; that which I have recorded since has been under a fuller and clearer light' (Occult Review, Vol. 15, No.1. January 1912, p. 50). Nonetheless, his early essays on alchemy retain their value for the obscure information they contain and for their critical comments on Madame Blavatsky's dubious manipulation of her source material on alchemy.

[FIRST PAPER.] THERE are certain writers at the present day, and there are certain students of the subject, perhaps too wise to write, who would readily, and do, affirm that any answer to the question which heads this paper will involve, if adequate, an answer to those other and seemingly harder problems- What is Mysticism? What is the Transcendental Philosophy? What is Magic? What Occult Science? What the Hermetic Wisdom? For they would affirm that Alchemy includes all these, and so far at least as the world which lies west of Alexandria is concerned, it is the head and crown of all. Now in this statement the central canon of a whole body of esoteric criticism is contained in the proverbial nut-shell, and this criticism is in itself so important, and embodies so astounding an interpretation of a literature which is so mysterious, that in any consideration of Hermetic literature it must be reckoned with from the beginning; otherwise the mystic student will at a later period be forced to go over his ground step by step for a second time, and that even from the starting point. It is proposed in the following papers to answer definitely by the help of the evidence which is to be found in the writings of the Alchemists the question as to what Alchemy actually was and is. As in other subjects, so also in this, The Unknown World proposes to itself an investigation which has not been attempted hitherto along similar lines, since at the present day, even among the students of the occult, there are few persons sufficiently instructed for an inquiry which is not only most laborious in itself but is rendered additionally difficult from the necessity of expressing its result in a manner at once readable and intelligible to the reader who is not a specialist. In a word, it is required to popularise the conclusions arrived at by a singularly abstruse erudition. This is difficult- as will be admitted- but it can be done, and it is guaranteed to the readers of these papers that they need know nothing of the matter beforehand. After the little course has been completed it is believed that they will have acquired much, in fact, nothing short of a solution of the whole problem. In the first place, let any unversed person cast about within himself, or within the miscellaneous circle of his non-mystical acquaintance, and decide what he and they do actually at the present moment understand by Alchemy. It is quite certain that the answer will be fairly representative of all general opinion, and in effect it will be somewhat as follows: "Alchemy is a pretended science or art by which the metals ignorantly called base, such as lead and iron were supposed to be, but were never really, transmuted into the other metals as ignorantly called perfect,

however. and though they did not succeed in making gold or silver. as the Occult Sciences in general are the debris of of [sic: this is the first of several typos existing in the original journal article. but not all. beyond contradiction this is a tolerable standpoint from the standpoint of modern science itself.namely. once their component parts are known the metals will be capable of manufacture. Now. men whom no one would suspect of being Mystics. simply correct these errors without comment. what does the student of the Occult Sciences understand by Alchemy? Of two things. from this point. Adepti. The question what is Alchemy is then easily answered from this standpoint. He affirms that there is a common basis of all the metals. then so much the worse for the wisdom.indeed. We will. If Alchemy be really included as a branch of occult wisdom. and that is the standpoint of the occultist. would be preferable to the Alchemists in chemistry. and indeed. another point of view. that they are not really elements. . Chemistry is still occasionally discovering new elements. though whether by a prohibitively expensive process is another issue. In this case. a common basis of all the elements is a thing that has been talked of by. one. There is. Now. and the dust from the ancient sanctuaries of long vanished religions. some were the chemists of their period. they yet chanced in their investigations upon so many useful facts that they actually laid the foundations of chemistry as it is. For this reason it would perhaps be unjust to dishonour them. by thousands.it is the dry bones of chemistry. Goldsmith and Pinnock in history. and that they are resolvable. Joyce and Mangnall in general elementary science. of course. either in matters of physics or philosophy.sigillum Natura et artis simplicitas.com] ancient knowledge. It will be pardonable perhaps to state it in an occult magazine." It follows from this answer that this guesswork and these gropings of the past can have nothing but a historical interest in the present advanced state of chemical knowledge. would perforce come to a conclusion.ex uno disce omnia.in the past. He understands the law of evolution applied by science to the development from a latent into an active condition of the essential properties of metallic and other substances. and let the second be reserved for the moment in the interests of that simplicity whicht he Alchemists themselves say is the seal of Nature and art. no doubt many of them were rank imposters. He does not understand that lead as lead or that iron as iron can be transmuted into gold or silver.at which point these papers and The Unknown World itself. and it is occasionally resolving old and so-called elements. It is. absurd to have recourse to an exploded scientific literature for reliable information of any kind. gold and silver. The ignis fatuus of Alchemy was pursued by many persons.

This instruction is accompanied by a claim which is. and he has the further presumption in his favour that as regards archaic documents those who can give the sense can most likely explain the meaning.There is. and this for the plain reason that. To put the matter as briefly as possible. At the same time his defence of Alchemy is not founded on merely hypothetical considerations. the occultist finds in the great text. Thus it would seem that in a supposed twilight of chemical science. the claim itself is found side by side with a process which pretends to be practical. in the second place. He has therefore that right to speak which is given only by knowledge. Here his position. It rests on a solid basis. he is talking hypothesis alone. whether unassailable or not. namely. in an apparently inchoate condition of physics. There are occultists at the present day who claim to have made gold. The Unknown World has not been established to descant upon mere speculations or to expound dreams to its readers. that the metals are composite substances.the absolute recognition that in all natural substances there exist potentialities which can be developed by the art of a skilled physicist. claims which it is impossible to verify may be none the less good claims. for accomplishing the disintegration in question. It is open to the test question: Can the occultist who propounds it resolve the metallic elements. So far as can be known the occultist does not manufacture gold. that the Alchemists had through their investigations become acquainted with a process which demonstrated by their resolution the alleged fact that metals are not of a simple nature. tolerable perhaps in the bare field of speculation. but to little real purpose until it can be proved by the event. This is the first point in the defence of Alchemy which will be raised by the informed occultist. there were men in possession of a power with which the most advanced applied knowledge of this nineteenth century is not as yet equipped. Now. and can he make gold? If not. so far as it is possible to gather.books of Alchemy an instruction which is virtually as old as Alchemy. cannot be impugned by his opponents. but its chief object is to impart solid knowledge. which is given furthermore in a detailed manner. however. and that is alchemical literature and history. but they are necessarily outside evidence. few of them know anything of the history and all are ignorant of the literature. in effect. Above all it desires to deal candidly on every subject. there is another instruction to be found in these old textbooks. But. and the method of this education is pretended to be . About neither classis it necessary to say anything at present. Furthermore. one obviously vulnerable point about this defensive explanation of Alchemy. There are other occultists who claim to be in communication with those who possess the secret. and that is the instruction of development. It will not ignore speculation.

because it has been veiled by its professors. and Denis Zachaire. as sciences that have always been kept secret. Bernard Trevisan. nor again is it read into the literature by a specious method of interpretation. such as Raymond Lully. Those who. He would appeal to the case of Glauber. and if on the authority of his . Why it has been thus wilfully entangled. to the case of Lascaris and his disciples. amidst an extraordinary variety of formal difference. It follows from what has been advanced that the occultist should not be asked. amidst all its mystery.imparted by the textbooks. is not a casual. namely. there is found the same radical teaching everywhere. will be regarded as of less force and value in view of their more remote epoch. Nicholas Flamel. He will frankly confess that this process still remains to be understood. the adepts on all ultimate matters never disagree. and to the processes which applied them. as a test question. Having established these points. why it was considered advisable to make it caviare to the multitude. but because the earlier examples. and what purpose was served by the writing of an interminable series of books seemingly beyond comprehension. and if his instances were limited to these it is not from a paucity of further testimony. does offer some hope for its unravelment.a point upon which they themselves frequently insist. and disguised by a terminology which offers peculiar difficulties. which is not only in advance of the supposed science of the period but is actually a governing doctrine and a palmary source of illumination at the present day. have determined to study occultism. and amidst protean disguises of terminology. regarding their singular unanimity as a proof of the truth of their art. In whatsoever age or country. are points which must be held over for consideration in their proper place later on. Thirdly. whether he can make gold. and from this the occultist would appeal to the history of the secret sciences for convincing evidence that. isolated. transmutations have taken place. or conflicting testimony. so that here again we find a doctrine. must be content to take its branches as they are. if evidence be anything. for what reason so ever. the occultist will proceed to affirm that they afford a sufficient warrant for the serious investigation of Alchemical literature with the object of discovering the actual process followed by the old adepts for the attainment of their singular purpose. to that also of Michael Sendivogius. it is upon the face of the whole literature. in other words. wrapped up in strange symbols. to the case of Van Helmont. whether the literature of Alchemy. So much as regards the literature of Alchemy. and connected with that doctrine a formal practice. the testimony of Alchemical literature to these two instructions. but whether he is warranted in taking the Alchemical claim seriously.

assuredly answer yes. From the standpoint of this criticism the power which operates in the transmutation of metals alchemically is.acquaintance therewith he can. be in a position to encompass the great work of the Mystics. the achievement of a hypostatic union of man with God. For the evidence of this interpretation they tax the entire literature. in the main. will. the purification. in a word. there is another school of occult students who believe themselves to have discovered in Alchemy a philosophical experiment which far transcends any physical achievement. united to an appropriate interior attitude. a man who has passed a certain point in his spiritual development. and transmutation of man. it is a mere question of getting to understand the symbolism. Assuming there is strong presumptive evidence that the adepts could and did manufacture the precious metals. and sometimes an irresistible. that essentially the Hermetic experiment was a spiritual experiment. and their citations carry with them not infrequently an extraordinary. and this is indeed the subject of the present inquiry. as he does. But there is another issue which is not by any means so simple. But they affirm that the process in metals is subordinate. is the process with which the literature is concerned. and that they enclosed the secret of their method in a symbolic literature. in doing so. with a corresponding conduct on the part of the exterior personality. the accomplishment of what has been elsewhere in this magazine explained to be the true end of universal Mysticism. The exaltation of the base nature in man. after the mode of the . To put it in a manner so elementary as to be almost crude in presentation. then he is entitled to a hearing. force. attains a correct interpretation of Hermetic symbolism. almost accidental. Now. and. or that such a work is possible and has taken place. The man who by proper study and contemplation. which process also is alone described by all veritable adepts. that no cryptogram invented by human ingenuity is incapable of solution by the application of human ingenuity. be put in possession of the secret of divine reunion. and the achievement a spiritual achievement. about which it will be well to remember the axiom of Edgar Allan Poe. and will. by the development of his latent powers. a psychic power. not only was all this the concealed aim of Alchemy. veiled under the symbolism of chemistry. in a sense. the issue which has been dealt with hitherto in respect of Alchemy is one that is exceedingly simple. himself a literary Mystic. so far as the requisite knowledge is concerned. the existence of which was hinted at in the beginning of the present paper. conversion. but the process by which this union was effected. At least in its later stages and developments this school by no means denies the fact that the manufacture of material gold and silver was an object with many Alchemists. That is to say.

among others. is discovered occasionally describing spiritual truths in the language of physical chemistry. with attribution (Watkins. Scanned from the periodical "The Unknown World". 15. it becomes a matter for serious inquiry which of these occult methods of interpretation is to be regarded as true. 1894. nothing to the present purpose. who is now known to be a woman. And this being incontestable. or nothing that is sufficiently demonstrable to be of real moment. These. As to this last point there is nothing inherently unreasonable in the conception that an advancing evolution. independently of the new departure which it makes in the interpretation of Hermetic symbolism. 1. and in England. that the interpretation was definitely promulgated. whose name also is now well known. later Mary Ann Atwood. whether in the individual or the race. It is obvious that Alchemy. On the other hand. This was a large octavo of considerable bulk. has a knowledge and control of physical forces which are not in the possession of ordinary humanity. 1. the grand central doctrine and the supreme hope of Mysticism. is mystically of far higher import than a mere secret science of the manufacture of precious metals. very meagre and very indefinite. while the development of this principle and the ministration to this desire are the chief purpose of The Unknown World.Mystics. the French illumine. will give a far larger familiarity with the mysteries and the laws of the universe. No. though it would be bad taste to mention it.com] For the peculiar character of its research. Reproductions are available from the Yogi Publication Society. The first traces are supposed to be imbedded in the writings of Jacob Bohme and about the same time Louis Claude de Saint Martin. it was the production of an anonymous writer. at least in certain circles. for the extraordinary wealth of suggestion which more than justifies its title. A first step towards the settlement of this problem will be a concise history of the spiritual theory. Despite his colossal doctrine of Hermetic development. does not need insistence in this place. It was not till the year 1850. in the whole of Transcendental Philosophy. are at best but traces. that it is possible for "the divine in man" to be borne back consciously to "the divine in the universe. however. 1918). as there is no other hope. [Mary Ann South. Isabelle de Steiger saw to it that the book was republished." which was the last aspiration of Plotinus. understood in this larger sense. Aug. truly. Adepti. . In that year there appeared a work entitled A Suggestive Inquiry Into The Hermetic Mystery And Alchemy. Being An Attempt To Discover The Ancient Experiment Of Nature. Vol. is found in the works of Paracelsus. this book was remarkable. for the quaint individuality of its style. There is no other object.

This seems at first sight an extreme statement. the New Kabbalism of Dr. so it is of the English lady that we have derived the transcendental views of alchemy. to the wonderful books on Magic which were written by Eliphas Levi himself. Even the Rosicrucianism of the late Mr. Kingsford. But these are the two chief sources of inspiration. on the other. At the same time. As it is to the magical hypotheses of the Frenchman that we are indebted for the doctrines of the astral light and for the explanations of spiritualistic phenomena which are current in theosophical circles.[SECOND PAPER. to name only two typical instances. everywhere in the Recovered Gnosis there is the suggestion of the Inquiry. So far as books are concerned. Wynn Westcott. for example. Everywhere in Isis Unveiled the influence of Eliphas Levi is distinctly traceable. It is doubtful if Eliphas Levi did not himself owe something to its potent influence. by the supposition that . Christo-Theosophy. the Oriental doctrine of Karma is traceable in the writings of the French initiate who adopted the Jewish pseudonym of Eliphas Levi Zahed.] ELIPHAS LEVI affirms that all religions have issued from the Kabbalah and return into it. it may. be affirmed that all modern mystical literature is referable ultimately to two chief sources: on the one hand. and he is supposed to have accomplished wide reading in occult literature. and the illuminations of Mrs. and would seem to have known English. also every where now current. Hargrave Jennings. and not among Theosophists only. and it is scarcely designed to maintain. that. and that it is not necessary to go outside them to understand how it is that we have come later on to have Theosophy. to the "Suggestive Inquiry Concerning the Hermetic Mystery. is referable to the last mentioned work. though it does not always indicate familiarity with the source of the views." that singular work to which reference was made last month as containing the first promulgation of the spiritual theory of Alchemy. for his course of transcendental philosophy post dates the treatise on the Hermetic Mystery by something like ten years. so far as it is anything but confusion. and of which but a faint conception is given in the sole existing translation. nor that the "recovered Gnosis" of the "New Gospel of Interpretation" is borrowed from the <I>Suggestive Inquiry</I>. and if the term be intended to include the whole body of esoteric knowledge. and. it is theosophical literature chiefly which has multiplied the knowledge concerning it. in like manner. in the sense that they have prompted research. no advanced occultist will be likely to dispute the statement. It is also to Theosophy that we owe the attempt to effect a compromise between the two schools of alchemical criticism mentioned last month.

the thing distilling and the thing distilled. for the most part. the grand distillery. and yet no one can intelligently study these writings without being convinced that the vessel is Man himself. however the adepts in their writings have most strenuously sought to conceal is the nature of the Hermetic Vessel. to quote only one among many. To discover then the secret of Alchemy the student must look within and scrutinize true psychical experience. with all adepts. declares that the universal orb of the earth contains not so great mysteries and excellencies as Man re-formed by God into His image. however. who is able to draw to himself what the alchemists call the Central Salt of Nature. but because the alchemical experiment is attended with great danger to man in his normal state. but it is not Mesmerism working in the therapeutic . Concerning this faculty the alchemists speak magisterially. What. but to an unprepared student its terminology would perhaps offer certain difficulties. To understand what is advanced in this work is to understand the whole theory. as if it had illuminated their understanding so that they had entered into an alliance with the Omniscient Nature. the one subject that contains all. become intuitively known. and he that desires the primacy amongst the students of Nature will no where find a greater or better subject wherein to obtain his desire than in himself. and can unlock the most hidden mysteries. and he only need be investigated for the discovery of all. Later speculations have. and a veil which was made use of not with any arbitrary and insufficient desire to conceal for the sake of concealment. for example. and the Suggetive Inquiry is in this respect still thoroughly representative. having regard especially to the germ of a higher faculty not commonly exercised but of which he is still in possession. which subsists between Alchemy and the modern art of Chemistry is one of terms only. and all the hidden springs of Nature.there were several planes of operation in alchemy. who also in his regenerated wisdom possesses all things. of which the metallic region was one. added little to the theory as it originally stood. and as if their individual consciousness had become one with Universal Consciousness. Man is. The first key of the Hermetic Mystery is in Mesmerism. in fact. and therefore in attempting a brief synopsis. which they admit to be a divine secret. it will be well to present it in the simplest possible manner. and by which all the forms of things. or even to ensure safety during ages of intolerance. and self-knowledge is at the root of all alchemical tradition. Alchemy is not an art of metals. the chemical phraseology is a veil only. The sole connection. according to the Suggestive Inquiry. Man is the true laboratory of the Hermetic Art. Geber. his life is the subject. but it is the Art of Life.

whereas now she is acquainted only with a part of her humanity. and magical effects. by him who penetrating all centres. and the attainment of which is believed to have been the result of initiation into the Greater Mysteries of old Greece. this may be an understatement. when the soul attains "divine intuition of that high exemplar which is before all things. lead up to the final stage. but as it is still occasionally met with. Some ten years later. and the final cause of all. published anonymously a small . The danger which was the cause of the secrecy was the same also." and in the year 1865 an obscure writer in America. proceeding by theurgic assistance. quite independently of both. The work. It sought to supply a purely rational motive which enabled the subject to withstand the temptation of the astral sphere. though at a very high price. but the endeavour of Hermetic Art was a right disposition of the subject. This was the consummation of the mysteries. in the book-market. and it is submitted that the end was identical in both cases. as many are aware.sphere. she attains her desired end and participates in Deity. working. prolific in super-material increase. The method of Alchemy is thus an arcane principle of self-knowledge and the narrow way of regeneration into life. and is indeed immaterial at the moment. there also. discovers himself in that finally which is the source of all. and understanding is understood. it is supposed that there are now only about twelve copies in existence. and to follow the path upwards to the discovery of wisdom and the highest consciousness. which lead into irrational confusion. the distortions and deceptions of the astral world. to exhibit after what manner the gifted authoress substantiates her theory by the evidences of alchemical literature. Between the process of these Mysteries and the process of Alchemy there is a distinctly traceable correspondence. There the soul knows herself as a whole. which seeing only is seen. Contemplation of the Highest Unity and Conjunction with the Divine Nature. attains the end of his profession. Into this world the mesmeric trance commonly transfers its subjects." It was impossible in the above synopsis. was immediately withdrawn from circulation. transcending. Eliphas Levi began to issue his course of initiation into "absolute knowledge. It is sufficient for the present purpose to summarize the interpretation of Alchemy which is offered by the Suggestive Inquiry. transmutations. so far as can be seen. but guaranteeing the truth of its experiences in a higher order of subsistence. not only liberating the spirit from its normal material bonds. and passing from himself to that. the ground of the Hermetic philosophy. such as that after which the ancients aspired. it is that which is now connected with the Dwellers on the Threshold. but rather with a theurgic object. the soul's consummation in the Absolute.

For the soul. which is a combination of gold and light. who was an occultist rather than a Mystic. or is it concerned with man and the exaltation of his interior nature from the lowest to the highest condition? In dealing with this question there is only one way possible to an exoteric inquiry like the present. and proposed the end of Mysticism as that also of the Alchemical adepts. the reputed author. in philosophy. Hitchcock. it is the quintessence.Does the literature of Alchemy belong to Chemistry in the sense that it is concerned with the disintegration of physical elements in the metallic order. it is a vexatious and difficult matter to settle on an actual place of origin. it is the Sun. it is mathematical and practical truth. and with the clear issue which is included in the following question:. All masters of the science have recognised that material results are impossible till all the analogies of the Universal Medicine and the Philosophical Stone have been found in the two superior degrees. not precisely at the cradle of the science." in which it was attempted to show that the Hermetic adepts were not chemists. The Unknown World is concerned here only with the first interpretation. and that the work itself passes as the operation of the Sun. as will be discussed later on. although this was probably China. for the mind. it is truth. philosophical.volume of "Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists. on the other hand. with a view to the making of gold and silver. the Absolute and Supreme Reason. and inexpensive. but for the subject in hand . Now. expeditious. Philosophical gold is. purely ethical. "Like all magical mysteries. the Universal Medicine is supreme reason and absolute justice. was not an occultist. though he had previously written on Swedenborg as a Hermetic Philosopher. in the subterranean and mineral world. the secrets of the Great Work possess a three-fold significance: they are religious. It is for this cause that the search for the Great Work is called the search after the Absolute. Mr. it is most pure and perfect gold. but were great masters in the conduct of life. and natural." The interpretation of Hitchcock was. in visible nature. otherwise. may be called intellectual. The interpretation of the Suggestive Inquiry was spiritual and "theurgic" in a very highly advanced degree: it was indeed essentially mystical. and no attention seems to have been attracted by his work. and that is by a consideration of the literature and history of Alchemy. as professedly an expositor of Mysticism. For this purpose it is necessary to begin. for the body. Then is the labour simple. in religion. as a single citation will suffice to show. it wastes to no purpose the life and fortune of the operator. because. and does not seem to have ever really understood Mysticism. The interpretation of Eliphas Levi.

and in the face of this fact it is useless to assert that it existed secretly in those countries. But this is precisely one of those airy methods of allegorical interpretation which. tincture by a process of varnishing. demonstrated to his own satisfaction that all classical mythology was but a vesture and veil of the Magnum Opus and the fable of the Golden Fleece is regarded as a triumphant vindication of classical wisdom in the deep things of transmutation. has any trace of Alchemy been discovered by historical research till subsequent to the dawn of the Christian era. There are many repetitions and trivial variations of the same recipes. The compilation. All that is known upon the problem of the origin of Alchemy in the Western Hemisphere is to be found in Berthelot's Collection des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs.recourse may be had to the first appearance of Alchemy in the West. and that source is open to suspicion because subject to the tampering of mystic imaginations during several generations of dreamers and scholiasts. assaying. notwithstanding. There are also fifteen processes for the manufacture of gold and silver letters. superficial colouring of copper into gold. These appear to have been collected from several sources. as Berthelot points out. Berthelot and his collaborator regard this document as conclusively demonstrating that when . M. and is like the note-book of an artisan. the surface colouration of metals. for the composition of alloys. there the dream of transmutation was first cherished. which was discovered at Thebes. or in Rome. The operations include tinging into gold. Alchemy first originated. is devoid of order. at the close of the last century. It contains seventy-five metallurgical formulae." but this was during and not before the first Christian centuries. once fairly started. despite the professional improbity of the recipes. as to what. The earliest extant work on Alchemy which is as yet known in the West is the papyrus of Leide. in Greece. written or traditional. The Graeco-Egyptian Alchemists are our sole source of illumination upon the science of Hermes. It is pervaded by a spirit of perfect sincerity. gilding silver. and the third part of the stars of heaven. will draw the third part of the earth and sea. superficial aureation by the humid way. etc. is practically a starting-point. Neither in Egypt."Despite the universal tradition which assigns to Alchemy an Egyptian Origin. It is much to be deplored that some esoteric writers at this day continue to regard ancient Greece and Rome as centres of alchemical knowledge. in the tail of its symbolism. It is true that the Abbe Pernety. and is referable to the third century of this era. because no person is in a position to prove the point. no hieroglyphic document relative to the science of transmutation has yet been discovered. etc. In Egypt. and the exhaustive erudition which resulted in that work is summed up in the following statement:.

as Berthelot also admits. on positive practices and actual experiences.) That it is impossible to separate the Leide papyrus from a close relationship with its context of other papyri. and there is. This demonstration is of the highest importance for the study of the origines of Alchemy. In pseudo-Democritus and still more in Zosimus (the earliest among the Greek alchemists). Zosimus. obscuring or eliminating what was practical. as with the author of Papyrus X (i. they are already complicated by mystical fancies." Now. In this respect it casts new light upon the genesis of the idea of metallic conversion. but it is quite certain that the Egyptian papyrus is precisely what it is described to be. and became the dupe of his own industry. This fact has to be faced. the Theban Papyrus of Leide).e. more correctly. as dealing with the supposed transmutation of metals is in reality a fraudulent business. sometimes he added prayers and magical formulae to his art. It contains the first form of all these procedures and doctrines. Berthelot. Olympiodorus. who says:. together with any consequences which it rigidly entails. but the practices exposed in this papyrus are the same as those of the oldest Greek alchemists.. and in acccrdance with the recipes of pseudo-Democritus and Olympiodorus. no doubt that the earliest work which is known to archaeology. It proves it to have been founded on something more than purely chimerical fancies." (II."The history of Magic and of Gnosticism is closely bound up with that of the origin of Alchemy. Sometimes the fabricator confined himself to the deception of the public. as it follows from his admissions. outside China.namely. and pseudo-Moses. Thus. then come the commentators who have amplified still further the mystical part. or. and "it bears witness to a science of alloys and metallic tinctures which was very skilful and very much advanced. there are many points in which the occultist would join issue with the criticism of M. But before concluding this paper it will be well to notice (I. the most ancient texts are the clearest. therefore. the mystic element entered very early into alchemical literature. by help of which imitations of gold and silver were fabricated. as admitted by Berthelot. and was introduced by persons who had .) That." Again: "The real practices and actual manipulations of the operators are made known to us by the papyrus of Leide under a form the most clear. a science which had for its object the fabrication and falsification of the matters of gold and silver. and the alchemical papyrus of Leide connects in every respect with two in the same series which are solely magical and Gnostic.Alchemy began to flourish in Egypt it was the art of sophistication or adulteration of metals. Not only is the notion analagous. to the exact knowledge of which they were frequently strangers. such as pseudo-Democritus. The document is absolutely authentic.

and it is devoid of all alchemical terminology. Sendivogius. 15. . If we can trace its recipes in avowedly alchemical writers. 1. and then only. It neither is nor pretends to be more than a thesaurus of processes for the falsification and spurious imitation of the precious metals.) That the Leide papyrus can scarcely be regarded as alchemical in the sense that Geber. then. Vol. 2. and Philalethes are alchemical writers. Berthelot declares is the case. who therefore made use of the early practical documents for their own purposes. (III. Arnold. No. 1894. as M.no interest in the practical part. In itself it neither proves nor disproves anything. Scanned from the periodical "The Unknown World". It has no connection. remote or approximate with their transmutation. Lully. Sept. it may be necessary to include alchemists in the category of the compiler of this papyrus.

says Berthelot. pseudo-Democritus. the other technical and covered with special fabrications. whether they are to be regarded as alchemists in the sense that attaches to the term when it is applied as advigoration of men like Arnold. The abbreviated formulae of a common medical prescription are as likely to contain the secret of the tincture or the mystery of the unpronounceable tetrad. by the Arabian writers as the source of their knowledge. because the matter was derived from Arabia. namely. Its authors are cited. It is sufficient to say that while it does not claim to include the whole of the best alchemists. The texts admit of being separated into two chief classes. our authority will he again M.[THIRD PAPER] THE next stage of inquiry into the validity of the venous answers which have been given to this question will take us by an easy transition from the nature of the Leide papyrus to that of the Byzantine collection of ancient Greek alchemists. Berthelot offers further a very special example of unwearied desire after accuracy. it omits an author who was judged to be of value either to science or archeology. and is quite absent from the literary instinct of that nation as a whole. It was stated last month that the compiler of the Leide papyrus could not be so regarded. and in this manner they are really the fountain-head of Western alchemy as it is found during the middle ages. Lully. Berthelot. The collection of Greek alchemists. and it will. various kinds of glass and artificial gems. who offers a signal and. The fullest confidence may always be reposed in his facts. as for example. M. most illustrious instance of the invariable manner in which a genuine and unbiased archeologist who is in no sense a mystic can assist a mystic inquiry by his researches. furthermore. The following synthetic tabulation will be ample for . indeed. It will he recollected from last month that the processes contained in the papyrus are supposed to represent the oldest extant form of the processes tabulated by Zosinius. and Schmurath. as it now exists. It is outside the purpose of an elementary inquiry to enumerate the manuscript codices which were collated for the publication of the text as it was issued by M. was formed during the eighth or ninth century of the Christian era. pass without possible challenge that no person could accuse that document of any spiritual significance. Berthelot in 1847. which is not at all common even among French savants. In proceeding to an appreciation of the Greek alchemists. and others of the Greek school. The claims of this school now demand some brief consideration for the ultimate settlement of one chief point. and it is thus practically exhaustive. of which one is historical and theoretical. at Constantinople.

otherwise. but in this case the attribution is frequently apocryphal. a sublime gnosis. the manufacture of various glasses. an instruction of Iris to Honris. A collection of ancient authors. and from the scientific standpoint the commentators are of minor importance. Berthelot is essentially a scientist. and any person who is acquainted with the Hermetic authors of the middle ages who wrote in Latin. though he also wrote in Greek. e. including $tephanus. Technical treatises on the goldsmith's art. The love of God and man. Selections from technical and mystical commentators on the Greek alchemists. succeeds only by divine assistance. incombustible nelphom. the Greek alchemists are not of the same character as the compiler of the Leyden papyrus. and Egypt is regarded as par excellence the country of the great work. With the one as with the other it is a divine and sacred art. With the one as with the other the subject is a secret science. unselfishness. Treatises attributed to Democritus or belonging to the Democritic school. including one addressed to Dioscorus by Sycresius. Iamthichers. and the essential preliminary requisites which are laid down most closely by both schools. and the writings in some instances are referable even to so late a period as the fifteenth century. or. Agathodamion and Moses are included in this section. f. Plato.the present purpose:. in the vernacular of their country. fabrication of silver. but in this connection it is only necessary to speak of the importance attributed to many of the great alchemists in order to place a student of the later literature in possession of a key to the . truthfulness. This section is exceedingly incomplete. which is only to be communicated to the worthy. and the Anonymous Philosopher. and the terminology of the Latin adepts. &c. c. d. but M. The materials are also the same. b. and invokes a special triumph over matter. hatred of all imposture. on examination. the sophistic colouring of precious stones. General Indications. including a Lexicon of the best Chrysopeia. By each indifferently a knowledge of the art is attributed to Hermes. The works of Zosinius the Panopolite. &c. will most assuredly find in all of them the source of their knowledge. Aristotle. the tincture of copper with gold. a variety of fragmentary treatises. The bulk of these documents represent alchemy as it was prior to the Arabian period according to its ancient remains outside Chinese antiquities. their method. the possessor of which is to be regarded as a sovereign master. Pelopis the philosopher. For. The similarity in each instance of the true process is made evident many times and special stress is laid upon a moderate and continuous heat as approved to a violent fire. for it participates in the divine power.a. and other great names of antiquity. the Christian philosopher. Ortanes. temperance. and another of considerable length by Olympiodorus the Alexandrian philosopher.

This fact therefore must be faced in the present enquiry. It is obvious that here is the crucial point of the whole inquiry. namely. and that some of those writers who reproduce the mystic processes were not chemists and had no interest in chemistry. finally. the Greek texts abound with references to the egg of the philosophers. on the assumption that alchemy was a great spiritual science. may very well have been only imperfectly understood by the mystics who. it is quite certain that it veiled itself in the chemistry of its period. undertook to adopt it. that a mystic element had already been imported into alchemy. Now. projection. Berthelot undertakes to shew that the fraudulent recipes contained in the Leyden papyrus are met with again in the Byzantine collection. the blessed water. an imposture. and in this case does not stand or fall by the quality of that chemistry. as regards terminology. the time of the work. the philosophical stone. be dealt with later on. the same which is not a stone. if the Greek alchemists under the cover of a secret and pretended sacred science were in reality fabricators of false sophisticated gold and riches. 3. which. . houseminters of metal. The mystic side of Greek alchemical literature will. there is at any rate some presumption that those who reproduced their terminology in like manner followed their objects. M. Vol. for it is not uncommon to history that those who exploit credulity finish by becoming credulous themselves. and other arbitrary names which make up the bizarre company of the mediaeval adepts. it is fair to conclude that men of later generations belong to the same category: that. 15. and that the science of alchemy ended as it begun. however. which at the same time may have been in many cases "tempered with superstition". then Zosinius also is entitled to he so regarded: that if Zosinius and his school were. 1894. and it is necessary to proceed with extreme caution. on such a hypothesis. the body of Morpresia. but the judgment which would seem to follow obviously from this fact is arrested by another fact which in relation to the present purpose is of very high importance. however. the matter of the work. Oct. and again with all its consequences: that the Greek alchemists so far as can be gathered from their names were alchemists in the true sense of Lully and Arnold: that if Lully and Arnold are entitled to be regarded as adepts of a physical science and not as physical chemists. Scanned from the periodical "The Unknown World". Berthelot suggests. No. as M.correspondence which exist under this head. 1. Finally.

i. Does the Byzantine collection tolerate the transcendental hypothesis? Let it be regarded by itself for a moment. pyrites. crude vinegar. in the series. and on the other what it lent to the long line of literature which came after it. The Seed of Venus is verdegris. are mentioned. obviously. also. but it would be to no purpose here. and seems almost to deify those who are acquainted therewith. that interpretation might be quite erroneous. The Lexicon is followed by a variety of short fragmented treatises in which all sorts of substances that are well known to chemists. Those explanations are simply chemical. The list might be cited indefinitely. is defined as white lead.[FOURTH PAPER] WHEN the transcendental interpretation of alchemical literature was first enunciated. whose writings are the material on which the transcendental hypothesis of alchemy has been exclusively based. This same interpretation belongs to a period when it was very generally supposed that Greece and Egypt were sanctuaries of chemical as well as transcendental wisdom. and female antimony.. On the other hand. Now this paper has already established the character of the Leyden papyrus numbered X. native sulphur of antimony. which explains the sense of the symbolical and technical terms made use of in the general text. here again there is much which might be interpreted mystically. putting aside on the one hand what it borrowed from those sources of which the Leyden Papyrus is a survival. besides many which cannot now be certainly identified. plus whatsoever may be literally genuine in the so-called Latin translations of Arabian writers. and methods that are identical with those of the mediaeval Latin adepts.e. Let it be taken consecutively as it is found in the most precious publication of Berthelot. though it is also the Concealed Mystery. that great secret of all Hermetic philosophy. the origines of alchemy were unknown except by legend. it was also stated that the Byzantine collection of Greek alchemists uses the same language. It is followed by an alphabetical Lexicon of Chrysopeia. obviously a spiritual interpretation might be placed upon it. and it was seen that there was nothing transcendental about it. In the copious annotations . Magnesia. which is a favourite symbol with all alchemists. is explained to be mercury extracted from arsenic. In a word. i. sublimed arsenic.. unprinted and untranslated. but they had not been published. and so also the Greek literature of transmutation.e. There is a dedication which exalts the sovereign matter. and yet such a construction may be only the pardonable misreading of unintelligible documents. the Sacred Stone is chrysolite. Dew. was only available to specialists. the Leyden papyruses had indeed been unrolled. much of the same symbolism.

that which is attributed to Democritus. The writers who follow Zosinius in the collection. Pelagus uses no expressions capable of transcendental interpretation.that what is stated concerning minera is an allegory. preaches union with the Divine. read chemically. He speaks often in language mysterious and exalted upon things which are capable of being understood spiritually. The secret of the Sacred Art. As much may be affirmed of the discourse addressed to Leucippus. but offers no mystical interpretation of the writings it pretends to explain. The philosopher Zosinius. and it was secret because it was unbecoming that any except monarchs and priests should be acquainted with it. a preamble thereto. Even amidst the mystical profundities of the address of Isis to Horis. seems also unmistakably chemical.that Zosinius. for example. there is no great accent of the transcendental. and the context is against the hypothesis. concerning things natural and mystic. which is a commentary on pseudoDemocritus. give much the same result. of which one is concerned with the purification of the soul.for example. Berthelot. and the extensive fragments which remain of him are specially rich in that bizarre terminology which characterized the later adepts. it must be frankly admitted the treatise of Olympiodorus contains material which would be as valuable to the transcendental hypothesis as anything that has been cited from mediaeval writers. of the Royal Art. He is neither less nor more transcendental than are these others. clothes much of his instructions in symbolic visions.appended to these texts by M. he distinguishes allusions to recondite processes of physical transmutation. is literally explained to be the King's secret. of course. there is no doubt of their chemical purpose. the time of the work. The fragments on furnaces and other appliances seem final as regards the material object of the art in its practical application. and many others. The epistle of Synesius to Dioscorus. About the fragments on the Fabrication of Asem and of Cinnabar. but he speaks also of innumerable material substances. the Medicine of the Soul and the deliverance from all evil. although it does term the tincture. that the ancient philosophers applied philosophy to art by the way of science. and the other with the purification of copper into gold. and of the methods of chemically operating thereon. Yet passages like these must be read with their context. or. exalts that mythical personage. the crown of philosophers. as. the allusions are. and the contemptuous rejection of matter. for the philosophers are concerned not with minera but with substance. Ostanes . the command of material wealth. In one place he explicitly distinguishes that there are two sciences and two wisdoms. who is exalted by Olympiodorus. rather. while he discusses the same questions which most exercised them. under the same pseudonymous attribution. Among the more extended treatises. On the other hand.

4. despite their invoking the intervention of the grace of God. Scanned from the periodical "The Unknown World". This is a point to be marked. 15. such as the metallurgy of gold. No. as it seems to point to the conclusion that the investigation of even merely material substances inevitably had a mystic aspect to the minds which pursued them in the infancy of physical science.gives the quantities and names the materials which are supposed to enter into the composition of the all-important Divine Water. and these vessels are the early and rude form of some which are still in use. including the processes of the so-called Iamblichus. 1894. the colouring of precious stones. is referred to Moses. by a still more extraordinary attribution. Agathodaimon has also technical recipes. do not need investigation for the purposes of a spiritual hypothesis. The priceless manuscripts upon which M. their fraudulent nature being sufficiently transparent. Nov. There is one other matter upon which it is needful to insist here. . and the chemical treatise which. The extended fragments on purely practical matters. Vol. and so of the rest. the tincture of Persian copper. Berthelot's collection is based contain illustrations of the chemical vessels employed in the processes which are detailed in the text. 1.

seems to have begun at the wrong end. The glass-makers. such as the Compositiones ad Tingenda. the painters. but in the first place it is needful to mention that although the evidence collected by Berthelot shews that Syria and Arabia mediated in the transmission of the Hermetic Mystery to the middle age of Europe. historically speaking. Berthelot. "Latin Alchemy has other foundations even more direct. and still onward were the preservers of this ancient technical tradition. the metallurgists. the dyers. On the contrary. Berthelot. another question. from the days of the Roman Empire. to the early Syriac and the early Arabian alchemists. The processes and even the ideas of the ancient Alchemists passed from the Greeks to the Latins. and hence it is to be again noted that the transcendental interpretation of Alchemy. however.[FIFTH PAPER] The next point in our inquiry takes us still under the admirable auspices of M. up to a certain point. and the goldsmiths. At the same time the evidence for this fact cannot be really impugned. De Artibus Romanorum.. In the attempt to explain a cryptic literature it seems obviously needful to start with its first developments. Now. they did not alone mediate. Schedula diversarum Artium. Unless these crafts had perished this was obviously and necessarily the case.. but the Latin writers did not derive it immediately from the Greek adepts." The existence of a purely transcendental application of Alchemical symbolism is evidently neither known nor dreamed by M. To what extent it was really and integrally connected with the mystical tradition of Latin Alchemical literature is. These are not Alchemical . were preserved through the barbarism of the first mediaeval centuries by means of the technical traditions of the arts and crafts. or to have recognised both modes? These points will be briefly cleared up in the present article. the potters. before the time of the Roman Empire. Liber diversarum Artium. Mappa Clavicula. and throughout the Carlovingian period. the jewellers. The proofs positive in the matter are contained in certain ancient technical Latin Treatises. and it will be readily seen that the possibility of a technical tradition which reappears in the Latin literature offers at first sight a most serious and seemingly insuperable objection to that application. it was derived to them immediately through the Syriac and Arabian Alchemists. and. to the Latin writers of the middle ages. as it has been seen. What are the special characteristics of these till now unknown personages? Do they seem to have operated transcendentally or physically. Not until last year was it possible for anyone unacquainted with Oriental languages to have recourse to these storehouses. the Byzantine tradition of Alchemy came down. and some others. though till now unappreciated.

had to pass through a Syriac and Arabian channel before it came down to Arnold.writings. though a certain purity of body and a certain piety of mind are considered needful to their success. but the Arabian Geber is more mysterious than his Latin prototype. they are romantic and visionary. Berthelot has for the first time translated the true Geber into a Western tongue. and the genuine works of Geber. Some of them deal largely in the falsification of the precious metals. and connects closely with the former and also with the Arabian series. these are terse. these are simple. Berthelot makes no annotations explaining. The Arabian treatises included in M. is written in Syriac characters. The Book of Ortanes. Here it is needful to distinguish that the Syriac Alchemists derived their science directly from the Greek authors. and the other mediaeval adepts. Geber only occasionally but largely from treatises of his own. whether tentatively or not. which are also bare practical recipes. the Arabian Djarber. and they were actually the craftmanuals of their period. They comprise nine books translated from the Greek Pseudo-Democritus and a tenth of later date but belonging to the same school. The book of El-Habib is to a certain extent an exception. The extensive Arabic treatise which completes the Syriac cycle. Lully. It is essentially practical. they are grandiose. and the Arabians from the Syriac Alchemists. These nine books are all practical recipes absolutely unsuggestive of any transcendental possibility. Now all these Arabic treatises differ generally from the Syriac cycle. and it is significant that in his case M. are simply forgeries. The Syriac literature belongs in part to a period which was inspired philosophically and scientifically by the School of Alexandria. as already indicated. It is of later date. the text being accompanied by figures of the vessels used in the processes. Berthelot's collection contain The Book of Crates. would make a tolerable point of departure for the transcendental . together with a few mystical and magical fragments in a condition too mutilated for satisfactory criticism. They comprise further very copious extracts from Zosimus the Panopolite. the chemical significance of the text. they are verbose. these are unadorned recipes. and in part to a later period when it passed under Arabian influence. they connect with the Leyden papyrus rather than with the Byzantine collection. otherwise Geber. As a fact. The Book of El-Habib. El-Habib quotes largely from Greek sources. With regard to the last the students of Alchemy in England will learn with astonishment that the works which have been attributed for so many centuries to this philosopher. which are quoted as of the highest authority by all later writers. The mystical tradition of Alchemy. M. and is an ill-digested compilation from a variety of sources.

1. Dec.hypothesis. supposing it to be really tenable in the case of the Latin adepts. 5. No. . 15. Scanned from the periodical "The Unknown World". 1894. Vol.

Finally. claims to be the land of the alkahest and of physical and transcendental alchemy. and in the absence of all evidence beyond that of tradition it is open to us to look elsewhere. William A. Martin. Emmett Coleman will no doubt be pleased to learn. P.if he be not aware of it already. it is desirable to look round and to ascertain. but it is certain that the celestial empire has the right to class herself amongst the very oldest schools of occult science." Madame Blavatsky proceeded at some length to "compare the Chinese system with that which is called Hermetic Science. as time went on. but while it was clear on the one hand that Mr. that a mythical treatise had been attributed to him. It must be remembered that the appeal of Latin alchemy is to Arabia. he regarded them as an unexpected source of possible light. the late Madame Blavatsky observes that "ancient China. But upon the subject of the Magnum Opus the Sphinx utters nothing. the mystery was resolved. and the subject has been brought down to the verge of the period when Latin alchemy began to flourish. Carrington Bolton's monumental Bibliography of Chemistry was again and again consulted." her authority being Mr. while that of Arabia is to Greece. but no person. and that the first period was in and about the third century of the Christian era. Madame Blavatsky seems to have . and no museum catalogue could give any information concerning a treatise entitled Studies of Alchemy in China. and at once made inquiry after the book cited by Madame Blavatsky. and Syrian literatures. it should be borne in mind that the first centre of Greek alchemy was Alexandria. if possible. and Mr. Writing long ago in La Revue Theasophique. whether there is any country outside Greece and Egypt. Now before touching briefly upon this which is the domain of the spiritual interpretation. Now. and her one reference being to a work entitled Studies of Alchemy in China by that gentleman. no bibliography. In any case alchemy has penetrated into Europe from China as we shall prove. Arabian. A missionary. so that these papers had perforce to be held over pending the result of still further researches after the missing volume. Martin was not himself a myth. it seemed probable.' Cradle is hardly the right word perhaps. and that of Greece to Egypt.[SIXTH PAPER] Preceding papers have taken the course of inquiry through the Greek. and China may very probably be right. when all resources had failed. When the present writer came across these statements and this reference. to which alchemy can be traced. Martin. an old resident of Pelun. concerning Alchemy in the Nineteenth Century. no less than ancient Egypt. calls it the 'cradle of alchemy. Mr. W. and again in an unexpected manner.that here as in so many instances which he has been at the pains to trace.

and still less Dr. was the first." Mr. but. published at Hong Kong. Mr. and possibly changing influence. with which Mr. which will. on an authority which she vaguely terms history. into sixteen centuries before the Christian era. the fundamental doctrine that the genesis of metals is to be accounted for upon a seminal principle. and indeed where she has varied from the original. the chief points of intercourse between East and West. Martin. The Greek alchemists appeal. and in the course of his citations there are many points which he himself has passed over. 300. The mere fact that alchemy was studied in China has not much force in itself. perhaps not the origin so much as a strong. Martin states (I) that the study of alchemy "did not make its appearance in Europe until it had been in full vigour in China for at least six centuries. Dr. as he believes to "suggest a Chinese origin for the alchemy of Europe. converts the six centuries before A.C. himself more honourable. it has been to introduce statements which are not in accordance with Mr.derived her authority second-hand. acknowledges a predecessor in opinion. directing. there is the not less important doctrine that there abides in every object an active principle whereby it may attain to "a condition of higher development and greater efficiency. or rather. Concerning the first point Madame Blavatsky. there is the fact that alchemy in China as in the West . knew nothing of the Byzantine collection.D. as already seen. and would have been obviously rejected by him. it is true. and yet it is exceedingly curious to note that the researches of the French savant do in no sense explode the hypothesis of the Chinese origin of alchemy. even in those parts where China is not concerned. as she evidently thought. and with regard to the second she reproduces his point literally. which does not treat in the smallest possible degree of alchemy in the nineteenth century. Indeed. The work which she quoted was not. Martin is contented. there is no answer from the ancient Nile. and China at precisely the right moment comes to fill up the vacant place. and could not profit by the subsequent labours of M. for once in a season to be in agreement with Madame Blavatsky. (2) That it entered Europe by way of Byzantium and Alexandria. however. From this article Madame Blavatsky has borrowed her information almost verbatim." Thirdly. Secondly. is almost entirely made up by the expansion of hints and references in the little treatise of the missionary. appeal strongly to the Hermetic student. Berthelot. or circa B. Edluns. to Egypt. it is very curious to see how her article. some twenty years previously. but Mr. Edkins. a book separately published. There is first of all. Martin exhibits a most extraordinary similarity between the theorems and the literature of the subject in the far East and in the West. and observes that the Rev. Martin. 300. Martin's. but is an article in The China Review. Mr.

usually a religious ascetic. the greater and the less. that "one of the most renowned seats of Alchemic industry was Bagdad. Mr. But. the transmutation of metals was indissolubly allied to an elixir of life. or both. the materials were indicated under precisely the same names: lead. finally. In such an inquiry as the present everything depends upon the antiquity of the literature. we must look with suspicion upon its literature subsequent to the eighth century because an Arabian influence was possible. and here there is no need to direct the attention of the student to the role which the same things played in Western alchemy. and therefore." the "true mercury. sulphur. the secret of gold-making was inferior to the other arcanum. derives his citations from various dates." etc. and primal source. Carrington Bolton includes in his bibliography certain Chinese works dealing with Alchemy. Now. physical. he tells us. it was closely bound up with astrology and magic. and referred to the third century. Martin.that an extensive commerce was "carried on between Arabia and China".was an occult science. the other outward and material. the chief question for the present purpose is whether Chinese Alchemy was spiritual. comparative antiquity. ." and that in order to preserve its secrets a figurative phraseology was adopted. success in operation and research depended to a large extent on the self-culture and self-discipline of the alchemist. Mr. without noticing the pregnant character of the remark. the metals were regarded as composite. As to this spiritual process Mr. and leaves us uncertain whether it produced a spiritual result or the perpetuation of physical life. the one inward and spiritual. "the radical principle. these were the chief substances. and from some authors to whom a date cannot be certainly assigned. it is quite possible that she communicated her knowledge to China. Sixthly. The operator of the spiritual process was apparently translated to the heaven of the greater genii. on the other had. moreover. Ninthly.that "in the eighth century embassies were interchanged between the Caliphs and the Emperors"and. for example. independently of questions of date. The alchemist of China was." "the green dragon. while it was the seat of the Caliphate". There were two elixirs. Martin tells us that there were two processes. Mr. mercury." As we know indisputably that Arabia received Alchemy from Greece. while freely granting that China possessed an independent and ancient school. there are strong and unmistakable points of resemblance in the barbarous terminology common to both literatures." the "true lead. Fifthly. Seventhly. In the fourth place. Eighthly. cinnabar. that it was perpetuated "mainly by means of oral tradition. Tenthly. Martin is not very clear. that "colonies of Arabs were established in the seaports of the Empire.

3. Vol. April 15. 2. No. . 1895.Scanned from the periodical "The Unknown World".